One of the ways of thinking about social change is “let’s get the few most charismatic people who look the most like what society already thinks are good people, and have a few really spectacular cases and maybe some New York Times articles about them, and people will think we’re good, and like us, and perhaps we’ll make an advance for everyone.”
Turns out that doesn’t really work. It turns out that if you solve the problem for people who are the least vulnerable of the vulnerable, usually you end up mobilizing ideas that actually further the stigma of those who are considered outside or not good enough.
And so, the idea of “trickle-up” social justice is that we should actually, ethically, start with those who are facing the worst conditions, who are most losing their lives, those people in prisons and immigration facilities, and experiencing poverty and homelessness, we should start by figuring out how to solve the problems for them.
And inevitably, that will solve the problems for everyone, but it’s not the other way around.
— Dean Spade, Trickle-Up Social Justice (via mytimeoutsidethewomb)
One of the ways that people justify oppressing people of any alternative gender or sexuality is by saying the social norm is natural. That is, it originates in the authority of Nature itself. In other words it comes from God, an authority to which there is no appeal. All this is, in fact, a complete fabrication, a construction. There is no “natural” sex, because “sex” itself as a medical or cultural category is nothing more than the momentary outcome of battles over who owns the meanings of the category. There is a great deal wider variation in genetics than most people except geneticists realize, but we make that invisible through language. The way we make it invisible through language is by having no words for anything except male or female. One of the ways our culture erases people is by not having any words for them. That does it absolutely. When there’s nothing to describe you, you are effectively invisible.